IFM Innovators

15 min read

Table of contents

Table of contents

What are the main FM and maintenance trends and challenges?

Operational changes that began out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic have now become permanent fixtures in our lives. The initial lockdowns of 2020 drastically altered our daily routines, and by 2021, we had adapted to a new normal. After dealing with many fresh challenges in 2022-23, including a war and rising material and supply prices, one thing is certain: proactive maintenance has never been more vital than it is now. 

Indeed, if things progress as we think they will, it will be an inevitability, almost a byproduct of progress.  We think that when facility managers embrace the newest technology, predictability will stop being a pipedream and become a reality.

If we had to choose 3 trends in maintenance and FM, they would be:

  • Further applying artificial intelligence and machine learning mechanisms to create predictive maintenance models targeted at specific sectors
  • Developing endpoints with information and UX that are better adjusted to each type of operator/technician
  • Greater and better integration with IoT systems, based on the growth in popularity of sensor systems.

Ricardo F. Marques

Head of Marketing at Pontual

From our point of view, the main trends that will mark the next few years are:

Greater automation of processes in customer service

It’s important that we leverage advancements in technology to tackle the shifting challenges in the market, specifically increased labour shortages. By exploring new solutions to improve the guest experience before, during and after their stay, hotels can stand out and increase customer satisfaction. Automating certain processes through digital channels, like those powered by EZ4U, such as WhatsApp or SMS for promotions and booking, hotel businesses can make it easier for customers while also reducing the workload for the hotel by managing time and operations more efficiently.

Small marginal gains could be the difference between thriving and surviving, and automation is a good example of this. 

Adapting communication for personalised experiences

A recent report by Google and Phocuswright states that six out of ten tourists believe it’s important for hotels to tailor their communication to their customers’ preferences or past behaviours. Having a better idea of the customer profile represented in each reservation can allow managers to develop a targeted communication strategy to enhance the customer experience and satisfaction.

Additionally, the report highlights that 36% of tourists are willing to pay more for personalised experiences. This suggests that one of the trends for the future may be the implementation of more advanced loyalty programs using technology.

Given EZ4U’s expertise in digital communication strategy, it’s possible to provide a personalised experience for the customer not only in terms of promotions and special offers but also by automating services through WhatsApp. Imagine if guests could request products or maintenance via voice or text channels.

Changes in travel styles

The concept of hybrid or remote working is here to stay and the hotel industry must be prepared for this shift. The traditional short business trip may now turn into a longer stay where the client will seek additional comfort, work and even kitchen facilities.

In this sense, it may be necessary for hotels to adapt and provide services such as rooms with office spaces, better quality WiFi networks, and spaces for remote conferences. None of these would have been pre-pandemic priorities.

João Monteiro

Head of Parnerships at EZ4U

How will FM companies of the future look? What priorities and characteristics will define them?

What will a successful FM company look like in a years time? How will the day-to-day operations of facility management teams be affected, and what tools and technologies can they use to address these challenges? Additionally, what new skills will facility management have learnt to meet these new demands?

The FM companies of the future will be driven by intelligent systems that will completely dematerialise the relationship they have with their entities. The priority of these companies will be to invest in technology and encourage their clients to take a chance on IoT systems that allow for greater connection between their activities.

Ricardo F. Marques

Head of Marketing at Pontual

Positive and healthy user experience, with a strong focus on health, well-being and safety will become an increasingly large priority for managers. Infrastructure should adapt, even more, to users’ individual characteristics. We’ll find ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting systems integrated into the dynamic schedule of each of the employees, especially given the trend we’re seeing of more dynamic physical spaces with a higher turnover of space. Another big trend will be the increasingly frequent presence of data professionals in FM teams. They’ll further improve the user experience with usage data and evaluations.

Wallace Neto

Marketing & New Business at Grupo Orion

Professionalisation and capacity. Unfortunately, the Brazilian economy has been shrinking due to an ongoing unstable political environment, which has, in turn, decreased investment in professional training in our industry. Furthermore, companies have needed to start including digital systems that can manage, control and understand buildings and assets. A building is a product and, therefore, has value. 

Many companies lose a lot of money because they can’t work out where energy is being used or wasted. By managing everything in multiple spreadsheets (many times with errors in its formulas), without integration, without history tracking and without daily data updates, it can be nigh on impossible to make smart decisions. An FM professional needs to be strategic, if they neglect key tactical and operational areas, companies will lose money. 

Without adequate support for the infrastructure of a business facility, there is no point in beating sales targets, there is no point in putting pressure on costs, because profit will remain unsustainable.

Lea Lobo

Head of Content & Events at Infra FM

FM is a reflection of the organisations’ strategy. It shares its values and mission and consolidates the corporate culture. At the same time, FM is responsible for ensuring the life cycle of the organisations’ support activities, from corporate real estate to sustainability, maintenance and project management, services and workplace.

With their eyes set on the future,  companies must have the ability to be flexible and adapting to the needs of today.  Energy constraints, the impacts of climate change or even social changes resulting from situations such as the pandemic we have recently experienced are some of the examples of the indicator of the robustness of FM companies.

In the transformation phase we are living, the priorities of FM companies should be innovation, entrepreneurship and social inclusion, without ever losing their focus on customer proximity and talent retention.

These priorities are in harmony and complement each other. Having talent within organisations makes it possible to foster entrepreneurship and develop more innovative solutions. Focusing on the customer, being close, leads organisations to assert themselves through their differentiation.

Mariana Abreu

Operations Coordinator IFS at SAMSIC Portugal

As demonstrated year after year, the industry must remain resilient and quick to adapt to the changing circumstances as situations can change quickly, often without warning. In light of this, it’s so important to keep up to date with the latest industry trends and remain versatile in your approach.

As mentioned, technology will have a big influence in the coming years, so being

aware of what solutions are on the market and how they could elevate your business

is essential for remaining competitive and contemporary. Surrounding yourself with fellow hospitality professionals is also a great way to navigate the challenges throughout the year. After all, we are one big family and at HOSPA, we provide our members with continued support to ensure they remain at the sharp end of the industry.

Jane Pendlebury

Chief Executive at HOSPA

The hotels of the future will be automated and technological, offering more security and agility in the service and stay through digital devices. This will improve the guest’s journey as a whole. But, my calculation is that the big focus for hotels will be on delivering enhanced guest experiences, improving guest satisfaction, building customer loyalty and generating growth through positive reviews. The end-to-end guest experience will be an important differentiator between hotels, resorts and guesthouses.

Cláudio Azevedo

CEO at APP Sistemas

In the management plan, structures must evolve and be created that allow the delivery of this service, not only in an occasional way, but in a complementary way, upstream of the operation. This is currently the major aspect to be developed in FM companies.

At a more operational level, the focus on the end user should be the priority, in order to actively contribute to the positive experience of the occupants and, consequently, to the success of the business.

In terms of project management, in a future that is expected to see a greater pace of change, the integration between operation and project management, which may range from contingency plans to space fit-outs, the ability to deliver this type of value, taking advantage of the existing relationship, synergies and history, will certainly be a win-win model for all involved. The adoption of new technologies and different ways to deliver your services will make the difference when it comes to deciding between similar contracts, where the context will surely be much more competitive, with the value delivered being scrutinised in detail.

Miguel Valério

Global Head of FM at Critical Software

The FM companies of the future are aware, for example, that there are more multi-layered issues to handle, like the emergence of hybrid facilities such as workspaces. Intelligent technology is the way to meet those needs, with  IoT, virtual reality and, of course, Intelligent Maintenance Management Platforms. Catching up in terms of customisability, user experience and integrability must be a priority, and resorting to intelligence is the way to meet it.

Of course, transforming working habits brings challenges too. It’s essential for facilities management and field service teams to be closely connected, at the heart of operations, and to be the primary beneficiaries of advanced intelligent technologies. That’s why we cannot separate intelligence from collaboration, since this is what allows the removal of obstacles from the maintenance work and its natural, operational processes. 

The FM companies of the future will look for agility, transparency, visibility, actionable data and resilient relationships with their partners. If there’s something both the pandemic and the war have shown us, it is that we cannot operate alone. 

Luis Martins

Founder and CTO at Infraspeak

If the future of the maintenance and facility management sector was to be described in one word, what would it be?

In the long term, the maintenance and facility management sector will likely see many changes and it’s important to be prepared. However, if these experts had to use one word to describe the future of this sector, what would it be? The opinions were diverse, with some emphasising the need for resilience, others highlighting the importance of innovation, and others focusing on making operations more people-focused. Despite these differing viewpoints, all agree that the future of this sector will be both challenging and innovative.

FM companies have been driven by innovation, digital transformation and sustainability, but the future must focus more on inclusion. As the promoters of the values of organizations, being the catalysts of corporate culture, inclusion is the key to fostering a more balanced and healthy business environment.

Following times lived at distance, by the pandemic that conditioned us for two years, many of our soft skills have fallen into oblivion. It is essential to invest in new ways to share ideas, spaces, and cultures. By promoting inclusivity in corporate spaces, we can build a better and longer-lasting world.

Mariana Abreu

Operations Coordinator IFS at SAMSIC Portugal

Progression. The cleaning industry is at a crucial turning point, with advancements in technology leading to potentially significant changes. Technological advancements are becoming more progressive and the key to our guaranteeing our success is integrating humans with all aspects of tech. Co-botics, proof of clean software, sensor tech, app-based training platforms, EVs, chemical advancement, coatings. 

Additionally, the formation of the APPG, British Cleaning Councils’ efforts to raise our profile and the opportunity for the trade associations to work closer together, combined with the general raised profile of cleaning and hygiene — the time for change is now.

Paul Ashton

CEO at Birkin Cleaning Services Ltd

Vibrant. As touched upon, our agility as a sector is phenomenal. Blessed with a wealth of sharp minds and entrepreneurial spirit, there’s always something exciting happening, and we’re an industry that doesn’t stand still. From operators to suppliers, we’re always looking to innovate, so, regardless of the challenges, I truly do think we’re an exciting, evolving industry that there’ll always be a need for. The future, in my book, is bright even amidst a raft of challenges.

Jane Pendlebury

Chief Executive at HOSPA

Management. The hospitality sector has undergone significant changes in recent years, as it seeks to diversify revenue streams, improve processes, streamline operations, and review staff. Alongside this, it has had to adapt to new consumer behaviours and meet the evolving demands of guests. Without a clear, data-driven, and strategic vision, it will be challenging for hotels to remain profitable in the industry. Technology can play a vital role in this process, providing hotel managers with the tools they need to make informed strategic decisions for their properties.

Cláudio Azevedo

CEO at APP Sistemas

Adaptability. The capacity to find, in each context, need, client or simple unforeseen event, the solution that best fits, while adding value to the organisation and its people. 

Recent years have gradually revealed the importance and support that the sector represents for its organisations, whether due to the impacts of Covid-19,to the intervention in the hybrid models currently being developed, or to the growing need to contribute to the sustainability of our planet. FM will always be the sector which, after identifying the various challenges, will deliver the solution, which allows sustained growth, the productivity of the occupants and consequently, the success of the business. 

In a constantly evolving world, those who innovate pave the way to transform today’s trends into tomorrow’s standards.

Miguel Valério

Global Head of FM at Critical Software


There’s no way to face the challenges  brought by Maintenance 5.0 without a  human-centric approach, where software, hardware and people work seamlessly. This human-centric view asks for the use of intelligent tech to create dematerialised shared environments where collaboration can happen in real time, with access to synchronised data and with in-built chat capability, and where planning is done altogether. 

By working closely with dynamic, intelligent ecosystems, we can remove friction in communication between facility managers and service providers, which often begins with procurement processes. A collaborative FM client-vendor platform, such as Infraspeak Network™, is our next step in contributing to this improved way of doing maintenance: on one hand, it allows companies to reach out to potential partners, request or submit quotes, close contracts and build a trusted network inside the platform; on the other hand, it enables full collaboration by allowing clients and vendors to share asset information and work orders, assign different FM companies to planned jobs, follow task execution in real time, and even chat directly with one another.

At Infraspeak, we strongly believe that a  more synchronised, intuitive and transparent workflow is key to work as one towards the future of FM.

Luis Martins

Founder and CTO at Infraspeak


The specific challenges that each company faces depend, of course, on their market and their vertical. However, it is clear from the responses we gathered that technology will be a common factor in addressing these challenges, both in managing operations and in the field. Technicians, teams, facility managers and service providers are and must be at the centre of operations, and must be the main beneficiaries of new and more sophisticated intelligent technologies.

The use of technology and innovation should not be an end in itself, but a means to an end, such as collecting and analysing data to gain valuable insights and improving working conditions for maintenance teams and users. This marks the start of a new era where technology serves humanity, rather than the other way around, known as Maintenance 5.0.

It should be noted that this new era of technology is not necessarily a revolution, but rather an evolution of what has been achieved so far. And this will happen as we’re coming out of an unprecedented period of innovation and a pandemic that has changed the world forever, with people at the centre of this new era and with collaboration as a motto. By collaborating, we have the best chance of overcoming the challenges brought by Maintenance 5.0, and that’s why we have so much to gain collectively by having this conversation. 

Individual and collective success is always achieved within a network.


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